The recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks demands a response. Here are two case studies to that end–one a case study in how to, the other a case study in how not to, respond.
The how-to case study: Mitchell D. Silber, “How to Protect New York’s Jews,” New York Times. Though Silber focuses on New York, his advice can easily be generalized. His reference to “self-defense” calls this case to mind. Though I’m not a great gun enthusiast, it seems obvious enough that would-be targets who are armed, and known to be armed, are less likely to be targets if they are. At a certain point, the Quentin Tarantino fantasies become less-than-helpful, and have to yield to an unpleasant reality: there are times when you have no choice but to kill the three-dimensional people who attack you.
The how-not-to case study: Caroline B. Glick, “Why American Jews Slander President Trump,” Israel Hayom. Like a lot of right-wing defenders of Israel, Glick belongs to the “fight defamation with more defamation” school of thought.
The two assailants who walked into the kosher supermarket in Jersey City Tuesday and opened fire intentionally targeted the Jews. The killers belonged to the black supremacist, virulently anti-Semitic “Black Hebrew Israelite” movement which claims its members are the true children of Israel and the Jews are satanic imposters.
Quick reality check: What’s so far been confirmed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is that the killers expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelite “movement” (itself a tendentious word that metaphorically implies a unified group with a single direction of travel), not that they “belonged” to it. It’s not even clear what it would mean to “belong to it”: the “movement” (if one insists on calling it that) is a broad one; it has no single centralized membership list or base of operations, and can’t really be “joined” in any card-carrying sense, much less be accused, root and branch, of anti-Semitism. Unsurprisingly, prominent members of the “movement” have condemned the attacks, a fact reported in The Times of Israel and Ha’aretz (among other places), but apparently unknown to or ignored by Glick.
From the garbled set of factoids that opens her article, Glick essentially infers that because the spate of recent attacks has largely been perpetrated by black attackers, the attacks have been inspired by the political left, and since that’s so, the way to respond to anti-Semitic violence is to pin the blame on the left, and accuse the left, en masse, of anti-Semitism. The underlying assumption is that “leftists” are responsible for black crime, partly because black criminals can themselves be presumed to be leftists, and partly because leftists can be presumed to support black criminality. Even apart from the falsity of the claim that the killers “belonged to the anti-Semitic Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” I guess we’ve now reached the point at which the Black Hebrew Israelite movement is supposed to qualify as left-wing. It all makes sense in a perverse way: to paraphrase Aristotle, once you grant one absurdity, the rest more or less follows.
Glick’s defamations call a recent movie to mind, one ironically enough brought to my attention by Scot Peterson. I haven’t yet seen it (planning to this Friday), but its relevance should be obvious enough from the preview.
I’d like to think that the Jewell movie will do the trick, but if not, I guess we could wait for the Steven Hatfill movie to learn our lesson. If we ever do.